US Opinion and Commentary

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Syria Truce Holds, So Far

Posted March 10th, 2016 at 3:46 pm (UTC-4)
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Saturday marks two weeks since a ceasefire began in Syria. While the Assad regime, the Russians and opposition groups have all reported violations, combat has been greatly reduced and humanitarian aid has been moving to more areas. Anti-government protests have even taken place amid the truce. A new round of U.N.-mediated peace talks are set […]

Turkey, Russia Use Syria Refugees to Blackmail E.U.

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:33 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin As the European Union struggles to find a way to reduce the inflow of Syrian refugees to manageable proportions, it is under pressure to downplay human rights violations by Turkey and Russia. Turkey, which has lost much of its democratic luster in recent years because of a crackdown on political opposition by […]

Russian Adventurism and the U.S. Long Game

Posted March 3rd, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-4)
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If the United States and its allies are not to be continually surprised, we will have to put more resources behind understanding what is happening inside Russia, as well as analyzing the complex of Russia’s interactions internationally.

The Unaccountable Death of Boris Nemtsov

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 4:26 pm (UTC-4)
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Nemtsov, who was fifty-five years old, was once a precocious political talent, rising from provincial governor to become to become President Boris Yeltsin’s deputy prime minister….His murder was a terrible blow to the opposition and an unwelcome jolt to the political élite.

A Glimmer of Hope in Syria

Posted February 11th, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-4)
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Cautious optimism may be the best way to term the agreement reached Thursday in Munich for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. The Turkish Foreign Minister called it “an important step,” while the U.N. chairman of the Munich meeting said it “could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Munich to make an “all or nothing” effort, was soberly realistic, saying implementing a nationwide cessation of hostilities within a week “is ambitious.” The agreement, which would allow delivery of much needed food, water and medical supplies to Syrian civilians, is not being called a cease-fire, which Kerry described as a more permanent step. However, it is somewhat encouraging that the U.S., Russia and others at the table can agree to take this first step.

America’s Syrian Shame

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-4)
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Aleppo may prove to be the Sarajevo of Syria. It is already the Munich. By which I mean that the city’s plight today — its exposure to Putin’s whims and a revived Assad’s pitiless designs — is a result of the fecklessness and purposelessness over almost five years of the Obama administration.

A Whiff of Panic in the Kremlin as Russia’s Economy Sinks Further

Posted February 5th, 2016 at 2:52 pm (UTC-4)
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President Vladimir Putin has gone so far as to blame Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin for Russia’s current difficulties….Signs of panic and dysfunction are everywhere. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has demanded yet another round of 10 percent budget cuts….The Russian government really has no good economic options other than hope.

Republican Senator Bob Corker: A Rare Voice of Bipartisanship

Posted February 3rd, 2016 at 2:46 pm (UTC-4)
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While the President of the United States sets the country’s foreign policy and priorities, Congress gets to determine how much money to spend on those policies and priorities. A key person making those determinations is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker holds that gavel right now. He has openly criticized President Obama for having “no strategy in Syria from day one.” During an appearance on MSNBC, Corker said, “I do not understand this president” on his opposition to establishing a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. Despite Corker’s harsh assessments of administration policy, he has a reputation of being a deal-maker, known for rising above partisan bickering with his genteel southern charm. Corker sat down with VOA this week for a wide-ranging interview on some of the thorniest foreign policy questions of the day: the nuclear deal with Iran, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Putin’s Russia.

Russia’s Ruling Regime Must Modernize or Face Collapse

Posted January 22nd, 2016 at 12:35 pm (UTC-4)
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In 2016 the Russian authorities will have to shift their focus away from shaping the world order and toward putting their own house in order. Otherwise, they will not survive.

Putin’s Reputation Turns Radioactive

Posted January 21st, 2016 at 3:32 pm (UTC-4)
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It isn’t often that a judge in one country accuses the president of another — a superpower, no less — of participating in murder. … although U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May told parliament on Thursday that Russia would face a tough response, it won’t.

America May be Doomed to Cooperate with Putin

Posted January 13th, 2016 at 8:27 am (UTC-4)
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For President Obama, the willingness to work with (Vladimir) Putin is an act of foreign policy realism or desperation, depending on your point of view. Some would argue that in Syria, the two converge.

Look for America’s Enemies to Take Advantage of Obama’s Last Year

Posted January 7th, 2016 at 1:09 pm (UTC-4)
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China, with impunity, has fortified seven newly created artificial islands located in the hotly disputed Spratlys archipelago. … Will Beijing seek to push the envelope even more in 2016, fearful that the next president in 2017 — whether Hillary Clinton or a Republican — could be more like Truman or Reagan than Carter or Barack […]

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin: Their Mutual Admiration is Unjustified

Posted December 23rd, 2015 at 1:40 pm (UTC-4)
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There is powerful evidence that Vladimir Putin is guilty of the murder of journalists, but it is impossible to “prove” his guilt because there is no police force in Russia that will investigate him and no court where he can be held to account. Under these circumstances, Donald Trump’s statement … is an absurdity.

Putin and Trump: It’s a Match!

Posted December 18th, 2015 at 3:18 pm (UTC-4)
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“He is a bright and talented person without any doubt.” The words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who lavishly praised Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Trump returned the favor the very next day when asked about Putin’s comments. “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” ignoring assertions from a TV host that Putin “kills journalists, political allies and invades countries.”

The love from Trump isn’t new. Previously, he said he thought he’d get along with Putin, who now has chilly relations with the United States after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and his highly suspect record on human rights. Diplomats were left gasping or opining righteously on cable news outlets that Trump’s comments prove what a danger a President Trump would be. Others found humor in the odd love affair. One blogger called it “Trumpevich.”

Putin Pouts

Posted December 3rd, 2015 at 11:28 am (UTC-4)
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Truth be told, I once rather admired Vladimir Putin, as George W. Bush rather admired him. I cannot say, as Bush can, that I looked into his eyes and “was able to get a sense of his soul.” But his nation has suffered through a long century, when the Western world had achieved so much.